Posts tagged ‘Nick Harkaway’

January 24, 2014

Discovering fantasy novels.

Planning a trip last year, I threw a few possessions into an overnight bag without really taking too much notice of them. Toiletries, clothes, a couple of books. One of those books was a gift that I’d had sitting on my shelf for over a year. A fantasy novel. I’d been curious of the choice when given it; I’d never expressed any real interest in fantasy. In fact, I was firmly of the opinion that fantasy novels were for Other People. People with enough time to read epic series with twelve volumes, learn about other worlds, giant family dynasties and, y’know, elves and stuff.  Clearly, I was basing my understanding of fantasy on a combination of Tolkien and Robin Hobb — only one of whom I’ve read anything by, in any case.

In a period of huge life change, I decided to get over myself and give the book —and, by association, my friend– the benefit of the doubt.  The book was Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora and it changed the way I feel about fantasy novels forever. I’ve since read Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker,  the Glass Book series by G. W Dahlquist, Ben Aaronavitch’s PC Grant novels set in London, and I’m currently enthralled by The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Whether all of these books are fantasy is one matter. I’m reliably informed that Dahlquist’s books are steampunk, and I’m not sure how all of the authors would class their own works. Certainly they’re not all found in the fantasy section of Waterstone’s. Whether they’re fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, magical, or a surreal mix of genres, it matters not. What they share is escapism from reality. One could argue that all fiction does that, and of course it does. But taking away the ‘normal’ world enhances that experience, even if the books are set on Earth, or even, in the case of Aaronovitch’s novels, in London.  It’s been something of a revelation to me. Now I’m one of the Other People, and very happy to have realised it. Whether I’ll ever get my head around Robin Hobb’s oeuvre is still in doubt, mind you…

Once I’ve finished The Night Circus, I don’t have a reading list. Now you know the kind of books I’ve been loving recently, I’d really love you to recommend a book for me!

What are you reading now? What books do you love? And what should I add to my reading list? 

July 31, 2013

Three Good Things: Week Three

It’s already week three of Three Good Things, and I’m really enjoying taking some time out of my busy day to think about what I am grateful for. I’ve been so overwhelmed that other people want to join in with this series of posts too. It’s been such a wonderful, unexpected result.

So, here are this week’s Three Good Things!

One: Angelmaker.

The first of my three things this week is a novel. It’s been a while since I read a book so wonderful that it absorbed me from the very first page. Nick Harkaway’s ‘Angelmaker’ is such a book. I’ve been re-reading sentences just for the pure pleasure of wrapping the language around my brain and sneaking off to quiet corners  to dip into it whenever I get the chance.

It’s the story of Joshua Joseph Spork, a clock repairer who tries to live a quiet life in London and keep himself removed from his father’s crooked legacy , and of Edie Banister, a retired super-spy. A mysterious automaton is brought back to life and the end of the world is threatened. Cue lots of intriguing narrative, hidden, mysterious places in London, movements between time periods and lots of well-developed, sympathetic and fascinating characters. It’s fun, thrilling, and something of a rollercoaster ride. I’m only half-way through so don’t give me any spoilers, but right at this point, I’m utterly loving it.

What I really love about great fiction is that it completely reduces my mind to the present. There is no planning, no anxiety, no over-thinking. Just the words spilling from the page in front of me.  And, no matter what problems I’m facing in the real world, there usually is a fictional character who is having a worse day than I am, which is something of a comfort!

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Angelmaker, shown here with a few other things that make me happy!

Two: Instagram fun.

I’ve been really enjoying using Instagram recently. Joining in with Fat Mum Slim’s photo-a-day challenge has changed the way I use the app quite a lot and I’ve discovered lots of new people to follow and be inspired by. Having to think more about the subject that I’m photographing (to fit with the day’s prompt) is making me view my surroundings more carefully, with a new, more appreciative eye. I’ve also been trying really hard to learn about composition, even when just using my iphone to take photographs. Suzannah Conway is hosting August Break on her blog and via IG soon too, and I hope to be able to join in with the daily photo prompt there, even though I doubt I’ll be able to add them all to my blog! Using photo-a-day challenges is a great way for me to stretch my photography learning, find new people to follow on Instagram and feel really positive about how I use the app.

One of my Photo A Day entries for the prompt 'Number'.

One of my Photo A Day entries for the prompt ‘Number’.

Three: Whistles linen top.

My last thing of the week is a new piece of clothing. I rarely buy new clothes, and each piece has to be quite well considered before I part with cash. In the recent sunshine we’ve been having, I’ve struggled with my wardrobe, as I seem to dress mainly for winter! So, I took the plunge and invested in a navy and white striped linen top from Whistles. It has a loose fit, boat neckline and bracelet length sleeves and I’ve been living in it. Chances are if you see me this summer, this is what I’ll be wearing…

Shameless self-portrait. If you see me this summer, I’ll be wearing this!

So, those are the things that have brought me joy this week.

Why don’t you visit A Hell of a Woman and Nyssapod, to discover what they’ve chosen this week.

What are your Three Good Things?